12 Oct 2016

Welcome visitors to the 2016 Thailand Para Open Championships, which commenced in Pattaya on Sunday 9th October, are members of the Australian national team; they are present as part of the Smash Down Barriers Programme supported by the Australian Government and International Table Tennis Federation.

Organised in conjunction with the Asian Sports Partnership and directed by Christian Holtz, Table Tennis Australia’s Sport for Development Manager, a full and most worthwhile schedule of events was arranged.

by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor

In addition to competing in the four day tournament, the players took part in a training camp with the Thai para team, visited a disability organisation of some 100 children with cerebral palsy and met Paul Robilliard, the Australian Ambassador.

“The objective of the program is to promote the social inclusion of people with disability through table tennis”, explained Christian Holz. “Furthermore, the programme aims to promote people-to-people links between Australia and Thailand through the sport.”

Most certainly the overall schedule realised not only a most memorable occasion; also, it was a most worthwhile educational experience.

“Ambassador Robilliard took the opportunity to learn some tips from the Thai and Australia Para Table Tennis Teams”, added Christian Holz. “He passed on his best wishes for success to all the players for the 2016 Thailand Para Open.”

Andrea McDonnell coached the children who suffer from cerebral palsy (Photo: courtesy Christian Holtz)

Additionally he emphasized the value of the venture.

“The partnership between our two countries through table tennis is an exciting one”, said Paul Robilliard. “Thailand is a formidable table tennis nation and brings a wealth of experience in coaching and sport development; Australia brings proven expertise in managing disability-inclusive sport and providing opportunities for people of all abilities to participate and reach their fullest potential.”

A positive reaction from Paul Robilliard; he saw the visit of the Australians as having a wide significance.

“Sport has the unique power to transcend social, cultural, religious and language barriers and bridge differences and to improve individual lives and transform communities”, he added.

Distinguished guests included Yuttajak Glinbanchuen and Anurak Laowong, bronze medallists in Men’s Team Class 3 at the recent Rio 2016 Paralympic Games; in addition to Sakul Ariyachotima, Deputy Secretary General at Table Tennis Association of Thailand and Dr Attarit Srinkapaibulaya, Chair of the Thai Para Table Tennis Society.

Australia and Thailand in harmony (Photo: courtesy of Christian Holtz)

2016 Thailand Para Open Championships: Latest results from Pattaya

Paralympics 2016 Thailand Para Open Christian Holtz Paul Robilliard